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Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for my ladies bible study group.  We meet every other monday.  It is a fairly large group, so there is rich discussion.  I am thankful for the accountability it provides.  When you know you're meeting with a group, you tend to be more diligent in the homework.

What are you thankful for?


The World

The World, by George Herbert

Love built a stately home; where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say,
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same:
But Wisdom quickly swept them away.

Then Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make Balconies, Terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration:
But rev'rend laws, and many a proclamation
Reformed all at length with menaces.

Then entered Sin, and with that Sycamore,
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and sommers cleft and tore:
But Grace shored these, and cut that as it grew.

Then Sin combined with Death in a firm band
To raze the building to the very floor:
Which they effected, none could them withstand.
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver Palace than before.


Language, again

As I read Church history, I am reminded regularly of the importance of language in the transmission of the gospel.  When we take the gospel to a country who has never heard the gospel, the first thing we want to do is to provide the gospel in the language of the people.

This was not the case for the country of Ireland.  The language of Ireland at the time of the Reformation was Irish.  However, it was not the language of the Church, not even the Roman Catholic church which was dominant at the time.  Even clergy were often ignorant of the official church language, Latin.  How did people understand anything said in mass if they could not understand the words being spoken?  How could clergy instruct people if they did not know the language, either?  

This did not change drastically with the Protestant reformers.  In his book The Irish Puritans, Crawford Gribben describes this:

Ireland's Protestants were being instructed to worship in the official government language of English, or in the official church language of Latin - but never in the language of Ireland's homes and markets.  How were Irish Christians to distinguish a Catholic Latin service from a Protestant Latin service?  How would preaching in any unknown language instruct the ordinary people in the finer points of the debate about justification by grace alone through faith in Christ alone?  In the institutions of the day, the Irish reformation was rooted in the betrayal of the Irish people as the English government thought that the demonstration of English culture was more important than the clear communication of the gospel.

It was certainly a unique situation:  the people were ignorant of the established Church doctrine because it was not taught in their own language, but the Church doctrine that was competing for their loyalty was not in their language, either.  How could they respond to the gospel if they could not understand the language?  While the Reformation was about bringing back the Church to a biblical faith, it was also used a tool for nation building.  England at this time was becoming a very powerful nation.  What seemed to be of more concern was the spread of the language of England rather than the gospel itself.  I'm sure we can think of other situations where individuals are more concerned with transmitting culture than they are sharing the gospel.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  I am reminded of how very crucial it is to understand that God has revealed Himself not only in His creation, but that His redemptive plan is revealed in His Word, a Word expressed in a language.



Heart Aflame - January 10th

Calvin comments on Psalm 7:

O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me.  David constantly entertained confidence in God in his afflictions.  This is a genuine and an undoubted proof of our faith, when, being visited with adversity, we, notwithstanding, persevere in cherishing and exercising hope in God.  The gate of mercy is shut against our prayers if the key of faith do not open it for us.

If I have done this and there is guilt on my hands.  David, by entreating God to succour him upon no other condition than this, that his integrity should upon trial be found to be untarnished teaches us by his example, that as often as we have recourse to God, we must make it our first care to be well assured in our own consciences with respect to the righteousness of our cause; for we do him great wrong if we wish to engage him as the advocate and defender of a bad cause.  Since God is no respecter of persons, we cannot expect him to be on our side, and to favour us, if our cause is not good.

Awake, my God; decree justice.  We should in everything conform our requests to the divine will.  We can never pray in faith unless we attend to what God commands, that our minds may not rashly and at random start aside in desiring more than we are permitted to desire and pray for.  David, therefore, in order to pray aright, reposes himself on the word and promise of God.

His violence comes down on his own head.  However skilled in craft our enemies may be, and whatever means of doing mischief they may have, we must neverthelss look for the issue which God here promises, that they shall fall by their own sword.  And this is not a thing which happens by chance; but God, by the secret direction of his own hand, causes the evil which they intend to bring upon the innocent to return upon their own heads.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness.  God does not shut up on conceal his righteousness from our view in the secret recesses of his own mind, but manifests it for our advantage when he defends us against all wrongful violence, delivers us from oppression, and preserves us in safety, although wicked men make war upon us and persecute us.


What I want

Well, there are a few things... I want to be a better wife and mother, a more faithful Christian woman, a more loving individual.  Right now, what I want is to have more dedicated Christian women in my life.

I desperately want that.

I want women in my life who are discerning; women who will think with their heads as well as their hearts; women who will saturate themselves in Scripture.  I want women in my life who will look at everything through the lens of Scripture, who are concerned to ask themselves daily, "How is what I am doing contributing to my holiness?" 

I want women who are not afraid to take an unpopular stance in the name of maintaining biblical standards.  I want women in my circle of friends who hunger and thirst for righteousness, even at the risk of being unhip, unpopular, or uncool.

Why do I want that?

Because I want to be a woman like that, and I can't do it alone.  The Body of Christ needs its members -- all of its members -- to be strong.  There is strength in numbers.

I pray daily for the strength to be that kind of woman, because I believe that is what God wants me to be.